Do I Need SEO For My Website in 2024?

woman looking at seo data on her computer screen

Whether you’ve seen a decrease in your website traffic, noticed competitors ranking higher than you, or are launching a new website and want people to find it, search engine optimization (SEO) has likely come up in the conversation.

Most SEO experts will tell you that everyone must invest in SEO to be successful… but at OTM we know that it’s not as black and white as that.

So, do you need to invest in SEO? The short answer is – it depends.

SEO is all about optimizing your website to rank higher in search engine results, ultimately increasing the visibility of your various website pages. It sounds straightforward, but SEO is not a one-size-fits-all solution. There are times when focusing your efforts on SEO may not only be unnecessary, but could also be diverting resources from more effective channels.

In this blog, we will cover what SEO is and how to determine if it’s the right marketing tactic for you to invest in.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

SEO is the practice of making adjustments to improve a website’s performance to increase its visibility online and ultimately increase website traffic from organic sources.

The essence of SEO lies not just in understanding the algorithms of search engines but in understanding user behavior; what people search for, the words they use, and the type of content they wish to consume.

For more information about the basics of SEO, check out our blog, Optimizing for Google: What Does Search Engine Optimization Do?

Factors to Consider Before Investing in SEO


Are people searching for what you are selling? If you’re marketing a product or concept that people aren’t already searching for, SEO could be an uphill battle. Also, if your business relies more on local foot traffic or has a niche audience, SEO might not be the most effective way to get in front of that audience.

The Customer Journey

Understanding your customer journey and how people find your business is critical for determining whether or not you should be investing in SEO and more specifically, what type of SEO.

For example, if your business relies more on local foot traffic and you need to show up when someone is searching for a local business, Local SEO is likely where you want to focus your attention.

On the other hand, if your business heavily relies on online traffic for sales or leads, investing in SEO could be beneficial. For example, e-commerce stores, digital service providers, and content-driven businesses typically benefit the most from on-page, off-page, and technical SEO.

Target Audience

If your primary customers do not use search engines to find your products or services, investing in SEO would be a misallocation of resources. Also, understanding how big your target addressable market is can help gauge if your target audience size is even big enough to warrant an SEO strategy.

Business Goals

Are you looking for immediate results? If so, SEO is likely not a good fit.

SEO is a long-term strategy. If your business relies on quick turnarounds or seasonal trends, SEO might not be able to deliver in time. In such cases, direct advertising or social media campaigns might yield quicker results.

If you already have an established website and are looking to expand your market and increase online leads over time, SEO might be a great fit for your business and worth exploring.

We recommend first identifying the goals you are trying to achieve and then creating a solid growth strategy for your business.

Competitive Landscape

In highly competitive industries, breaking through the noise with SEO can be costly and time-consuming. If larger competitors dominate the search results, finding a niche or using alternative marketing strategies might be more effective.

Not sure how you measure up against competitors? Check out our resource, How to Conduct a Competitive Analysis, or download it and read it later.


Contrary to the popular saying that SEO is “free traffic”— it most certainly is not.

Effective SEO requires ongoing effort and investment. It might be tempting to turn to a cheap SEO agency offering “guaranteed rankings” but it’s best to beware of these companies and take the time to thoroughly vet who you work with to make sure they are using white-hat SEO tactics.

If budget constraints limit your ability to engage in comprehensive SEO strategies for the long run, it may be wiser to delay this investment or consider lower-cost alternatives.

What Are the Alternatives to SEO?

If SEO doesn’t align with your current business strategy or market conditions, there are numerous other marketing avenues to explore:

  • Social Media Branding: Building a robust presence on platforms where your audience is active can drive engagement and sales.
  • Content Marketing: Instead of focusing solely on SEO, create valuable content that serves your audience’s needs and distribute it through various channels.
  • Influencer Collaborations: Partnering with influencers can provide a significant boost to your brand’s visibility and credibility.
  • Paid Advertising: Platforms like Google Ads or social media ads offer targeted advertising solutions that yield immediate results.

For more marketing tactics, check out our blog, How to Create Your Full-Funnel Marketing Strategy.

Deciding on SEO

While SEO can be a powerful tool for many, it is not universal. Assessing whether your target audience uses search engines to find your services, or if you have the budget to compete effectively are critical factors. If the landscape seems unfavorable, considering alternative strategies that align better with your business goals and customer behaviors might be the key to success.